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How to handle uninvited children at a cocktail party

I need some guidance here. I am planning a surprise birthday cocktail party for my husband. I have invited his out of state brother who has a couple of kids (age 4 and 5 and unruly). I have mentioned that there will be no kids (my kids are in college), and would he consider having his kids at another brother's house (who lives not too far from husband and me), who also has a couple of young kids. I have offered my kids to babysit for all of their younger cousins at the other brothers house. The problem: his wife won't leave her kids with anyone, not even family, not even for an hour. So it appears that in the end we'll have a couple of kids high-jacking an adults only party with a guest list of about 30 people. What can I do to keep peace? My brother-in-law wouldn't dream of attending without his wife and kids.

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  1. Your brother in law really can't understand your preference? Even with the offers to head to another family member? Even with a built in babysitter?

    How important is their attendance to you? How understanding will the rest of your guests be? How relaxed will you be?

    If you can't share how you feel about this with your brother in law without causing a big issue, I think you are stuck having an unpredictable evening.

    I feel for ya.

    1. Welcome to CH!!

      Since you already know the brother POV since they said no to your offer you just have choose which is more important, family accord or an adults only party. Once you know than it's an easy decision.

      1. I would have no patience for that. Either no kids or they don't come either, extra-especially if they are unruly children.

        I would make it very clear that there will be NO child-friendly food, no baby-sitters, no movies or cartoons on the TV, and NO tolerance for distruptive behavior.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Njchicaa

          Amen. Insisting on taking her children with her everyplace she goes is, let me put this politely, aberrant behavior. Does she take them when she goes for her GYN exam? Adults deserve a child-free social situation once in a while where they can tell an off-color joke or engage in some flirting. Some places are unsuitable for children and the very presence of children demands child-suitable behavior of adults.

          1. re: Querencia

            It's not fair to the children either - they really need some time away from their parents. Being "sat" by one's big cousins would be a great (but safe) adventure!

          2. re: Njchicaa

            I agree Njchiaa. I used to have that situation with a dear cousin. She would bring her little boy everywhere, and he was not an easy child. There were times that I absolutely put my foot down and said no. At my wedding, he was the only child there, but they wanted him at my table, where they sat and I put my food down there, big time!

            1. re: Njchicaa

              Well put. An invitation is a set of instructions. If you can't or won't comply with what the invitation entails, you can't accept the invitation.

              Man, I feel sorry for those kids.

              1. re: Njchicaa

                This is exactly how I feel.

                Not the same situation but we had some parents who started to let their kids use our pool WAY too much. Nothing spoils a good time for me more than the unruly kids of other people.

                I would reiterate that the party is for adults only and set up another get together with the in-laws.

                1. re: Dimbo

                  "another get together" for people who are *flying in* for this event?

                  1. re: DGresh

                    I wouldn't organize another event. I would say no kids, we've made sitter arrangements. If they don't come, too bad. The SIL is being difficult, and I would never cater to that behavior. It's controlling.

              2. Especially with the evening being a surprise bday party, I would find it very easy to just state my plans up front. Make a date with the bro in law and his family another time.

                75 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  ...maybe even with apologies: "I'm really sorry you and wifey won't be able to attend, but this is an adults-only gathering. We'll certainly miss you, and we'll get together with you and the kidlets another time.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    If only I was that brave! I'm a sucker (or passive-aggressive)!

                    1. re: Yankeegirl28

                      Or, you can look at it another way. If your inlaws have the chutzpah to insist their children tag along, YOU can certainly muster up the chutzpah to sweetly say, "Sorry, having the kids here, as much as I adore them, just doesn't work for me."

                      1. re: Yankeegirl28

                        Well, if you're not that 'brave' then your brother-in-law and his wife are already aware of your behavior.
                        They'll, most likely, push their agenda and know you'll cave.
                        An adult party is just that. Children should not be around adults who are drinking.
                        It's that simple.
                        An inviation, if you've sent one, should not include the children and they should honor it. I'd explain it once to them and then never another word. Drop it.
                        It's their prerogative to not want a sitter for their children…their choice but choices have consequences.
                        They won't be able to come to your husband's party with children.
                        Your rule and their choice.
                        Having hosted many a party I've experienced every request imaginable. Sometimes I've been more flexible than other times.
                        But I *do* know that once you've allowed something you said you'd never allow you become angry and resentful of the person who requested it. In reality it is YOU who gets to decide who comes and who doesn't. It's your affair and you simply cannot please everyone.
                        It's just the way it works.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          I always invite my friend's children to my more casual parties, as do most others in our social circle. We also drink alcohol. Most of my friends are social drinkers and imbibe at home, in front of their kids.

                          At one first birthday party, the proud papa brewed a special beer in the birthday girl's honor and served it to his (adult) guests.

                          1. re: LeoLioness

                            I've been to many 'cocktail' parties where having children present would be highly inappropriate.
                            Perhaps your parties are more benign than the ones I'm used to but having a child present wouldn't be enjoyable with the things that are being said, the jokes that are being told, the type of drinking that goes on, etc….
                            They're *adult* parties where only adults partake.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              You must have far more interesting friends than I do! :)

                              1. re: DGresh

                                Some of the comments in this thread have left me scratching my head and wondering what the hell is going on at some of these parties. I understand wanting time away from the children, but I'm having a hard time recalling anything I've seen at an 'adult' party that is so outrageous. Occasionally there will be an obnoxious drunk, but they seem to get vetted out fairly quickly.

                                1. re: pollymerase

                                  <what the hell is going on at some of these parties>

                                  Why would you assume there's anything off-color going on at these parties?
                                  I can think of a dozen places where children should be left behind with a babysitter so adults (not only the parents) can enjoy themselves without worrying about children and what they might see/hear or experience.
                                  I'm always amazed at the parents who bring their children to see a film or a special art exhibit or a high end dinner. It's not only disrespectful to the child, who doesn't have the capacity to act like an adult, but also the other patrons who're paying good money to have peace and quiet.
                                  Nobody's talking about adult parties that get out of hand and the cops need to be called…
                                  The ones I'm talking about are classy adult parties where children should be home, tucked in bed, sleeping.

                              2. re: latindancer

                                Well, no one is doing lines in the bathroom, if that's what you mean...but I don't know, the kids in m social circle don't seem phased by adults drinking and getting a little rowdy.

                                I respect that some parties are better suited for adults and it's certainly the host's call. I just took issue with your statement that children should never be around adults who are drinking. If that was the case, I'd pretty much never see my friend's kids.

                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                  What I don't understand is a parent who can't leave their child with a sitter and therefore insists everyone around them adhere.
                                  There's a time and place for everything…

                                  For those adults who come to a party expecting that they can let their hair down and then find there's a child running around who shouldn't hear that dirty joke being told or see that crazy, colorful friend doing shots out in the backyard…
                                  It inevitably puts a damper on a party, in my opinion.
                                  Maybe things have changed, this thread may be an indication of that, but I've never been to a party where there're kids running all over the place and we had to watch our behavior so they wouldn't be offended.

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    I guess my friend's kids aren't easily offended, then. They've definitely seen people doing shots, telling off-color jokes, people "sleeping" on the couch during a party, etc.
                                    No one really censors themselves just because there's a 5 year old in the room, and the parents don't expect anyone to.

                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                      Now I'm beginning to understand the anxieties of the contemporary generation…which are many.
                                      Thanks for the insight.

                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                        After giving this subject some thought over the last several hours I'm beginning to believe there really are parents out there who have no problem exposing their children to things parents would have never allowed many decades ago….
                                        based on several of the posts.
                                        I've been, over my lifetime, to parties that would, by all conventional standards, literally knock the socks off even the most liberal mind.
                                        The first thing that comes up for me is lewd dancing at parties.
                                        Is a 5 year old equipped, emotionally and mentally, to experience and watch this? Single and partnered dancing is very adult (at least the type I'm talking about) but maybe there are those who really find it educational from the perspective of those little, innocent minds?

                                        Just curious.

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          Your baits are getting funnier, but I'll take this one.

                                          Yes, those little, innocent minds find lewd dancing (nana? Is that you?) "educational". That's why we also replace their Dora the Explorer DVDs with porn and coat their chicken nuggets in cocaine. Because they should learn this stuff among friends just like my parents taught me and their parents taught them.

                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                            I guess what I'm really wondering is what it takes for some parents to let go of their little darlings, for a few hours, and go out and have a great time without them.

                                            This is a fascinating thread.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              I can have a great time at a party without my partner. That doesn't mean if he's invited somewhere, I tell him to stay home.

                                            2. re: LeoLioness

                                              <Your baits are getting funnier>

                                              It's actually not a 'bait'.
                                              I'm completely serious about my posts…
                                              I think parents, for whatever reason they give for not leaving their children, are exposing their kids to far too many concepts that are intended for adults only.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                I might too, if the parties I hosted/attended featured adults engaged in "lewd dancing", as yours do. But twerking isn't like, a party staple for everyone.

                                                But seriously, we're talking about people eating and drinking and laughing and telling stories sometimes getting a little loopy. I don't know what sort of key parties you're cooking up in your head, but your imagination is really running away with yourself here.

                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                  I couldn't agree more-- even in my grad school days, I don't recall any lewd dancing! (Of course we were mostly engineers, so YMMV :) )

                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                    You know what, it doesn't matter if the behavior at the party doesn't rise (or fall) to the level of adult, lewd or lascivious behavior. The presence of kids can still be a real drag and an unwanted distraction at a cocktail party, and that's reason enough to insist on their absence. Yes, my kids, now in their early teens, have, on occasion, been at such parties, when we drank and swore and behaved as if they weren't there. They've seen me, and my friends, drink to considerable excess. But my understandable preference is generally that they not be there, and usually I arrange for them to be elsewhere. And I would always defer to such a request from another host. I really, really, really want the OP to grow a set and stand up to the wacko sister in law.

                                                    1. re: Wayno

                                                      Again, I think hosts absolutely should insist on no kids if that's their preference, and parent shouldn't bring them if they'd rather not.

                                                      I have invited kids to my parties in the past and it worked out, so that's my preference.

                                                      The in-laws are in the wrong in the OP's situation, absolutely, though I the alternatives (leaving the kids with another relative) may not be as black and white as they seem from the outside.

                                                  2. re: latindancer


                                                    I think there might be a large discrepancy in what people are considering 'adult' parties. This is why I was curious about what is happening at some of these parties. I'm in my early 30s, but it has been many years since I've been to a party where there has been 'lewd' dancing. I've just not seen that happen since I've become what I consider to be an 'adult'. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but in my experience in attending parties hosted by people my age, those younger than me, those older than me, co-workers, associates, bosses, friends, etc, I've not seen 'lewd' dancing or other 'off-color' behavior (and yes, I would certainly classify 'lewd' dancing as off-color). I have seen such behavior occur at bars, clubs, lounges, etc, but never at someone's home. Is this behavior appropriate for children? In my opinion, no.

                                                    Don't get me wrong, if people want to have crazy parties, by all means, have them. If consenting adults want to pound a bunch of shots and then go hide in a dark room with the neighbor, go for it! However, in my experience, this isn't something that seems to be very widespread/common, and presumably why many people don't see a problem with children in the same house where there are adults drinking.

                                                  3. re: LeoLioness

                                                    Some of the posters on here are obviously from an era long ago Leo. I went to a cocktail party that was at our chief psychiatrist's house. It was a house warming and full of *sophisticated* individual*s. It was much wilder than I assumed it would be. One of the other five psychiatrist's (we had five on our inpatient acute psych unit) had two toddlers. Dr. M. and his wife brought their toddlers and settled them into one of the bedrooms and proceeded to party their azzes off and taking turns checking on the kids. Everyone there was quite fine with that because we all wanted him and his wife there he was beloved by all. Zero incidents of unleashed feral toddlers trying to imitate the *dirty dancing* their parents were doing after a few cocktails.

                                                  4. re: latindancer

                                                    Haven't been to a party with "lewd" dancing since college. Maybe I should go to some of your parties!

                                                    1. re: lbs

                                                      I think that I'm completely over lewd dancing, since we're getting up there and all

                                                    2. re: latindancer

                                                      Lewd dancing. I don't recall ever being at any party which included anyone doing any lewd dancing. I think if some folks started doing that, we'd laugh our butts off and tell them to get a room.

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        as a child of the early 60s my parents and their extended family and friends often threw very lively parties with drinking, dancing, smoking, and children. these were parents with kids, not unmarried teen parties. my younger friends (30s-40s) nowadays often throw parties (again, not wild teen snogging puking fests) that include their and their friends' childrens.

                                                        it's not that you can't have a wild party as an older adult, and i've been to plenty, but most of the time if you're having parties with friends you've known a long time you know if things are going to get at all out of hand, and then you know not to invite kids - you plan for "that" kind of party. as a child, at adult parties, did i see adults get drunk? yes. did i hear some ribald humor? yes? did i grow up ok? um, yes, i did, i think, in most ways. as did most of my friends of that generation.

                                                        that "decades ago" thing where people seem to think things were so much better in the "olden days" just doesn't hold water with me.

                                                        all that said, people should be able to get away from their kids if they want to and leave them for a couple hours. and people who want an all-adult party, whether they intend on having "lewd" dancing or not, are entitled to a child-free event.

                                                      2. re: LeoLioness

                                                        I agree that the worry about off-color stories and drunks are a bit exaggerated. But that still doesn't mean that children should always be welcome at every party.

                                                        Let me preface this by saying that my nephew was the perfect child who always behaved impeccably, but most kids need to be entertained. They get bored, they whine, they want a drink of water, they want to be the center of attention, they should be in bed early, etc. That's no fun for anyone. They also get into things. I have enough troubles with my adult guests breaking my crystal without worrying about a child doing it! Their parents will either be distracted watching their children or interrupting to ask for special foods, special drinks, special cups, etc. Worse yet, they'll expect someone else to be watching and catering to their children (and I guarantee that children whose parents never leave them with a sitter will expect to be catered to) so they can relax and have a good time!

                                                        The main point of etiquette here is: the host sets the parameters of the event. Either abide by them or don't go. In this case, the host has gone to extraordinary lengths to provide alternatives for the children and the guests have refused them. "Sorry you can't make it, we'll have to get together another time" is the appropriate response!

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Kids are definitely not welcome at all parties. That's the host's call, 100%.

                                                          The strange twist this thread has taken is Latindancer's assertation that kids shouldn't be at parties they *are* invited to. Because of all the lewd dancing.

                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                            Am I the only one who giggles every time I hear about the lewd dancing? Wow the parties I go to are lame...

                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                <lewd dancing>

                                                                Well, honestly, I don't view it that way but there are alot of people who may…
                                                                A few on this thread, for sure.

                                                              2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                OK is there a pole involved and scantily clad voluptuous females in the lewd dancing or is it more like a Chris Farley *Chippendale's* dance or a scene from *The Full Monty*?

                                                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                  in my age bracket it's Chris Farley's

                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                    Chris Farley had it going on. Kevin James too had his moments.

                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                      In my age bracket, it's John Belushi. TOGA!

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        I don't remember John doing lewd dancing? Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze dirty dancing was comedy genius.

                                                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                          You never saw Animal House? It was a pretty lewd movie overall. The toga party was the high point.

                                                                          Dirty Dancing was a comedy? I must have missed that. Not a big fan though, sorry to say.

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            I've seen Animal House, but don't recall John dancing lewdly - even in a toga. I'll have to revisit that.

                                                                            Here you go. It's kind of the predecessor to Chopped Chef!


                                                                            1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                              Thanks haven't watched SNL in many a year....can't stay up that late anymore ;-)

                                                                              Here's a little preview http://www.anyclip.com/movies/animal-...

                                                                              Although it doesn't show the end where they're all wiggling on the floor. My kind of party!

                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  Ruth, one thing i've noticed that you definitely reminded me of, is that kids get into things (duh). My nieces and young nephews (we have two generations, 7-12 and 21-25 used to get into a hell of a lot of trouble (especially at my house, I guess I have a lot more kid-attracting tchotchkes and so forth) when they were little, primarily because their parents got to kibbitzing with the relatives and ignored the kids. I really don't want to be that gal, the property cop. But it kept happening. Thank heavens the younger ones are old enough not to go out and look for trouble any more, they look to the older cousins for entertainment instead of the fish in the pond. They do grow out of it, but the lack of parental intervention is what I'm thinking the OP is dreading, and I don't blame her. It can translate to a lot of expensive breakage.

                                                              3. re: latindancer

                                                                Come party with my family. People bring their kiddies....dogs and one guy brings his cat. No one is uptight about any of it. Of course the booze and the bong helps loosen up the *party poopers*:):)

                                                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                  I can say, without hesitation, nobody's 'uptight' at the parties I attend…quite the opposite.
                                                                  Dancing, eating, drinking and whatever else happens…

                                                                  It all happens without children, thank the gods.
                                                                  I can't imagine an adult not being able to separate from their kiddo for a few hours…
                                                                  Not good for the parents and certainly not good for the child.

                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                  "What I don't understand is a parent who can't leave their child with a sitter and therefore insists everyone around them adhere."
                                                                  My reason (20 yrs ago) was generally the expense of hiring childcare. Adding $20-$50 to the cost of dinner was a serious consideration! $8/hour (slightly above minimum wage at the time) added up quickly when I started including travel time, "get ready" time, etc. Not to mention cab fare home for the sitter.
                                                                  Not everyone has a family member who can provide child care.

                                                                  I am often surprised by the number of people who still try to negotiate child care rates to BELOW minimum wage.

                                                                  1. re: KarenDW

                                                                    Folks, let's return to the subject at hand, away from the economics of babysitting. We've removed some posts here.

                                                                  2. re: latindancer

                                                                    I think refusing to leave kids with a sitter is a control move and nothing more.

                                                                  3. re: LeoLioness

                                                                    To me, it's not just whether or not the kids would be phased. It's....why? Why need they be there? Why can't there just be an adult only party?

                                                                    My parents' group set up parties in much the same way the OP suggests. Older kids responsible for younger kids, either in a nearby home or on a different floor of the adults only party. Usually the nearby home. Because....kids don't need to be at every party?

                                                                    Now, I agree that there's no problem with kids being around adults drinking .That's what dinners and neighborhood BBQs and backyard parties and corn boils and house painting parties and block parties were for. :)

                                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                                      Well, of course, people should throw whatever kind of party they want. I wholeheartedly believe that, and can completely understand why the OP is feeling put out. It's her call, not the guests.

                                                                      For me, I changed my tune about having kids at parties when I found out how much it cost for a babysitter. Once I realized that most of my friend's choices were either a.) Shell out close to $100 for a babysitter, b.) Have only one parent be able to attend or c.) No one comes, I really didn't mind including kids. Not everyone brings them, but if it means more people I love can come then I'm okay with it. My parties tend to be pretty casual affairs, though.

                                                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                        Oh, my parents' parties were incredibly casual.

                                                                        In my current circle, it tends to also be the older kids watch the younger kids, often at a next door house. Hence, no baby sitting money needed. Often the parents just pool money for pizza and snacks for the kids' party.

                                                                        $100 for babysitting? For an evening? May I ask where you live? That's outrageous.

                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            I live in the Boston area too. Parties now always include kids where we are because all of us have kids. If the parties were "adult only", a lot people probably wouldn't go because of the cost of the babysitter. The thinking is "is this event 'babysitter worthy' or not?" Who wants to give a party when no one comes? So, people bring kids and set them up in a room with a movie or video games and the party ends before 11:00 p.m. with no one drinking too much because everyone has to drive home with their kids in the car.

                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                              i live in boston. and that's easily what i pay on several occassions. especially during the christmas season. i once went to dinner, the nutrcracker, and out for a drink. for the amount i paid in babysitting, the sugarplum fairy should have given me a lap dance.

                                                                          2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            $100? Were you hiring paramedics for babysitters?

                                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                                              IDK, $100 doesn't seem completely unreasonable... depending upon the importance of needing childcare. I have cancelled business meetings due to lack of childcare at 7am :( Perhaps $100 would have been worth it?
                                                                              Back to the topic at hand, I would consider that for a 3 hr party, I would pay for at least 5 hrs of child care, to cover transit time and *possibly* 15 minutes of getting ready without a child underfoot. So, 5 hrs @ $12 = $60. Then taxi fare each way, $10-15. Pretty close to $100 if you ask me. And some events would be worth it. If only for the scintillating (child-free) conversation.
                                                                              fwiw, I have two children, now over 25, whom I raised as a single parent from the age of 7. I would have preferred more adult-only events, but the cost of child-care was too much. Minimum wage in our region is currently $10.50/hr. I can't imagine paying someone for caring for my child.

                                                                      2. re: latindancer

                                                                        You must hang with some real jet setters:)

                                                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                          Not necessarily.
                                                                          I actually hang with lots of people from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures and parts of the world.
                                                                          They all, based on the fact there are no children present, feel the same as I.

                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                            This thread reminds me of a holiday party we attended with our kid about 8 years ago. Lots of other kids there. Halfway through the party, the cops show up. A late arriving guest had called them after hearing a toddler crying in a car parked outside. Turns out, one of the guests had left her toddler sleeping in his car seat in her car parked outside while she was enjoying herself inside. Mind you, it was December in New England. Cold and dark. The cops led her outside and we didn't see her again. Could not understand why she hadn't brought him in as there were plenty of other kids there, other than she wanted to have fun and didn't want to be bothered with him. Ugh.

                                                                            1. re: Kat

                                                                              That person sounds either like she was on drugs or mentally ill.

                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                Or maybe just eat up with the dumbass

                                                                              2. re: Kat

                                                                                Shame on a woman who would do something like that with her child.
                                                                                Hopefully it wasn't the only time it took place and she wasn't completely unfit.
                                                                                The woman made the choice…she didn't have a sitter and she went to the party anyway and left her child to the elements.

                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                  Again, I think that behavior goes way beyond merely being "selfish".

                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                    Yes. Child endangerment comes to mind.

                                                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                                                      Yes and she was not a young woman either. An older mother who should have known better.

                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                        Lots of people (I don't know any but I've read and heard) don't understand that once they have that child their entire life changes.
                                                                                        One of the issues they can't seem to get ahold of is the FACT that the child comes first…
                                                                                        The safety and welfare of that child is the only thing that matters.

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          This person left a toddler alone in a car in December. It seems obvious that there's more going on with her mental health than "she wanted to party/the sitter cancelled".

                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                            It makes it easier, doesn't it, to try and comprehend a parent who'd leave their toddler in a car unattended and attend a party by labeling the behavior as some sort of mental illness.
                                                                                            I can vouch for a few parents I've experienced who don't have a smidgen of 'mental illness' and were just plain self centered, narcissistic imbeciles….unless I've missed something and now self-centeredness is classified as 'mentally ill'. There are just some really crappy parents out there taking really crappy care of innocent children.
                                                                                            Please don't be fooled into thinking the parents who do these things are always mentally ill.

                                                                                            That's just foolish, naive thinking.

                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                              It's foolish to think you know the status of everyone's health (mental and otherwise).

                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                "This person sounds like she was on drugs or mentally ill"
                                                                                                Your statement not mine.

                                                                                                I've never once claimed to 'know the status of everyone's health (mental or otherwise).
                                                                                                I am saying and I'll quote, "don't be fooled into thinking the parents who do these things are ALWAYS mentally ill"
                                                                                                They're not.

                                                                              3. re: latindancer

                                                                                really? how is it that in every situation i've read you post about, everyone you know always feels the exact same way you do? i have many friends, also of all backgrounds, cultures, blah-blah-blah, and i can definitely say they do not all feel the same as i. how boring it would be if they did. they may have similar views (we're mostly all liberals) but they emphatically do not feel the same as i do about all situations.

                                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                                          " Children should not be around adults who are drinking."
                                                                          what?!?! Do you think they shouldn't be allowed in restaurants either?

                                                                          1. re: LaLa

                                                                            I have friends who said they were going to give up drinking once they had kids.
                                                                            My in-laws won't eat in restaurants that serve alcohol. People have different values.

                                                                            1. re: melpy

                                                                              Yes their OWN values ..your I laws decide what is best for them, the friends decide what works for their family...but a broad statement like that when you are not referring to your OWN is ridiculous

                                                                            2. re: LaLa

                                                                              There's drinking and then there's drinking. I have never seen anyone having wine with dinner in a restaurant who put his hand up under a girl's skirt, but I have seen people at a party who really got into drinking do exactly that, and some adult behaviors are confusing and frightening to children. The OP's question wasn't about a family Thanksgiving dinner where Uncle Joe gets a little hammered--she asked specifically about a cocktail party, generally a venue for adult behaviors like drinking, flirting, and telling jokes that a six year-old doesn't need to hear.

                                                                            3. re: latindancer

                                                                              I agree with most of this, but also think it's fine for kids to be around adults drinking. Not at every cocktail party, no, and not sitting around getting hammered every night. But certainly there are kids at my big annual barbecue and lots of adults are drinking beer, wine, hard cider. In fact, I think kids should see adults drinking responsibly; that's how they learn appropriate behavior, from seeing it modeled. Otherwise they'll just learn it from their older friends, and we see how that goes...

                                                                      3. Chances are a 4yo and a 5yo will get bored stiff around that many adults.

                                                                        Have you got a TV in another room? Plant a large bowl of popcorn there and if you've got cable load the TV up with kiddie movies. Either your s-i-l will end up in there with them or you could see if she'd let one of your kids babysit if she's in the next room.

                                                                        Remind her that they'll be better off where they can't pick up a forgotten glass with alcohol in it and won't be walking around with lit cigarettes held down by their faces by adults who are paying attention to one another instead of them.

                                                                        Good luck!

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                          This will probably be the most likely scenario. As much as I hate it, my kids will watch theirs, but these kids are not very mindful and I can just see the little terrors running thru the house while the parents do nothing!

                                                                          1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                            Is it possible to invite them later than the rest of your guests to avoid some of the issues you're dreading?

                                                                          2. re: rainey

                                                                            That is what I'd do too. Yes, your SIL is ridiculous but this wouldn't be worth a show down for me.

                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                              That's exactly why it's inappropriate to bring children to adult parties.
                                                                              You raise great points.

                                                                            2. You don't mention your husband at all in this narrative. I understand that you want the party to be child-free. What is important to him? His brother and tagalongs or "adult." Plan accordingly.

                                                                              You can make the choice for BIL easier by setting it at say, 8 or 9 p.m. as a start time. And don't engage. Send the invitation and let them make their choice.

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                Unfortunately, my BIL and family would be flying in for the occasion. I know my husband would want his brother in attendance and we both know the ways of his wife. So it's really a question of avoiding hurt feelings. The potential for drama is huge! Quite honestly, if they arrive earlier, then perhaps they'll leave on the earlier side to take sleepy kids to the other brother's home. And to add to the insanity: I'm hoping they stay with the other brother and not with me! That sounds mean, I know. But they try my patience!

                                                                                1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                  Well, the fact that they're flying in changes things. I wouldn't leave 2 kids that young a plane ride away either. Maybe they think the other brother is irresponsible and/or they don't want him to watch the kids and are trying to avoid explaining why. Anyway, if they can't leave the kids somewhere else, they should stay home. But I can see why they wouldn't want to.

                                                                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                    She said the brother lives not far from her home, so it's not a plane ride away. Sad that they feel this way about leaving their children with others, because it's such a perfect solution.

                                                                                    1. re: breadchick

                                                                                      There's one brother out of town (with said children) and one nearby where babysitting has been offered.

                                                                                      1. re: sr44

                                                                                        There could be a reason that the parents don't want the other brother to babysit, but they prefer not to say.

                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                          I was responding to breadchick who may have missed that there are two brothers.

                                                                                          Another question: how will the nearby brother's children feel if the out of town children are allowed to come to the party?

                                                                                          1. re: sr44

                                                                                            I got that there are two brothers.

                                                                                          2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                            I would think the nearby brother will be at the party. He has young kids. The OP's grown children( son and daughter) have offered to watch all the kids at the brothers house. I see nothing wrong there.

                                                                                        2. re: breadchick

                                                                                          I think the SSIL is controlling and is trying to "win." She is being very unreasosnable.

                                                                                      2. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                        >>> And to add to the insanity: I'm hoping they stay with the other brother and not with me! <<<

                                                                                        So you're totally at the mercy of their whims and desires? Ya gotta learn to speak up here, Yankeegirl!

                                                                                    2. Do you have a space in your home where your kids can babysit their younger cousins, with strict instructions to keep the youngsters removed from the party area?

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                        Kinda. My oldest son commandeered the partially finished basement for his bedroom a year ago and has offered to keep the kids with him and my daughter will help as well. My only hope is that my kids won't be pushovers!

                                                                                        1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                          That sounds like a GREAT arrangement. I don't know how old your kids are, but this is a good time and way for them to learn what it means to be "in charge." Maybe your kids could throw a separate kids-only party for the little ones.

                                                                                          1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                            I was paid to babysit a party like this. Under no circumstances were we two teenagers to let any of the 8-10 kids out of the upstairs bedroom except to go to the bathroom. We had games and videos and snacks and kept them up there 4-5 hours. If you put your foot down why would tour children be pushovers?

                                                                                            1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                              I think the bigger problem is having one standard for one set of guests and another for everyone else. If I had arranged to go to the party and pay a sitter for a nice adults night out, it could be irritating to find out another couple was allowed to bring their kids. Additionally, not everyone likes children and despite how "well behaved" they are are going to be an interrupting drag on you as the host. Just my HO.

                                                                                              1. re: bamagirl30

                                                                                                >>> another couple was allowed to bring their kids<<<

                                                                                                This other couple is a brother flying in from out of state. So possibly they get a pass for that reason. My suggestion is way up the thread.

                                                                                                1. re: Gail

                                                                                                  Plus it sounds like the brother and his family were staying at the house.

                                                                                                  I agree that it would be irritating if one neighbor got to bring their kids because they didn't want to leave them, but all the other neighbors had to pay for sitters. But when it is the guest of honor's family who has flew in from across the country and is staying there, I tend to be understanding. (Assuming the kids are in another room).

                                                                                          2. Give them a couple of (very) strong martinis ("oops").

                                                                                            Problem. Solved.

                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                              Reminds me of a story my MIL tells about my husband. When
                                                                                              he was a toddler, he wandered around asking guests for the
                                                                                              fruit from their drinks. Apparently a number of people complied - they found him totally out under the dining room
                                                                                              table. Will you be serving "fruited" beverages?

                                                                                              1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                HaHaHa! I hadn't thought about "fruited" beverages! Mmm....I might have to check into that!

                                                                                                1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                  Hahaha! Oh, the visual of a little boy passed out under a dining room table w/ cocktail napkins and half-eaten fruit garnishes littered around him is priceless. Thank you!

                                                                                                  1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                    My cousins and I used to run around my grandparents' big house drinking the dregs from the adult beverages after the adults had gone into the dining room to eat Christmas dinner every year. The babysitters and cook had the hardest time finding us to come to the children's table. I knew from the age of 6 that bourbon was nasty but rum was delicious, and never to touch my grandmother's leftover grapefruit and vodka because it was unspeakably bitter.

                                                                                                    Today, I stick to wine!

                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                        Years ago we had a party where one family INSISTED on bringing their toddler. After the party was over we heard this weird sound and went into the bathroom to see him scooping the (thankfully clean) kitty litter out of the box and tossing it around the room. Turns out he was drinking the dregs from all the drinks during the party and was drunk as a skunk!

                                                                                                        1. re: Linda VH

                                                                                                          A toddler? And no one noticed he was drinking the leftovers?

                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                            That's sort of the problem of having kids at adult parties I guess. Does not compute!

                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                              I get it for older kids sneaking around taking sips etc but a *toddler*? Even if there was lewd dancing, off color joke telling and overall inebriation how could not a single adult not notice an 18 month old* drinking enough to get "drunk as a skunk" and the proceed to wander unattended into a bathroom. Kids have drowned in less water than a toilet while stone cold sober.

                                                                                                              (18 month is the approximate average age of a toddler)

                                                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                I do not understand this 'insisting' to bring your toddler. If I were invited, and unable to find child care, I would decline. Simple as that. If I had the nerve to show up with my uninvited child, I do hope the host/ess would send me packing.

                                                                                                                I've not read this whole thread but I'm in agreement with the majority. The kids are not invited and a reasonable (and I am assuming free?) babysitting scenario has been offered. I would send a follow-up email or make a call stating that it is going to be an adults-only party and you do hope that the wife is agreeable to the babysitting situation. Or if she isn't comfortable with it, she certainly can forego the party and stay with the kids at the other brother's house.

                                                                                                                Now they are flying in and it seems like they are potential houseguests. In that case, if the family is invited to stay with you then you are kind of stuck with the kids...cordoning them off in another part of the house with snacks, movies etc. is probably the best bet. That being said, they are 4 and 5 years old. My kids are early-to-bedders because they are early risers and it works for us, but my understanding is that the norm for kids that age is around 9:00, give or take. So why not start the party at their bedtime?

                                                                                                                The bottom line is, people with kids need to know there are things kids are invited to, and things they are not. Unless there are some other circumstances, a mother not being able to let her kids be babysat by family nearby for a couple of hours is not healthy, no matter how you look at it. We are invited to many family friendly functions (New Year's Eve being one of them) and we bring the kids. We are invited to other things that the kids are not invited to. If we can't make arrangements, we don't go. Plain and simple.

                                                                                                                It seems that hindsight is 20/20 and the OP was a little too polite in 'mentioning' that there would be no other kids and would the brother 'consider' having the kids be babysat at the other brother's house. What might have been clearer and easier for all would have been to say "kids are not invited, however, here's the babysitting situation I've come up with, I hope it works for you." If the wife can't cope with that, then the out of state brother and his wife have a decision to make. But, it's easier to say this from the outside. I do hope the party works out so it is enjoyable for all.

                                                                                                                As an aside, if I had out-of-towners for an event like this, I'd probably be doing a small family brunch or something the next day, so as to not exclude the kids. That's kind of how our family rolls, though.

                                                                                                    1. I don't think it's that big of deal. A couple of kids with thirty adults.I would make it known to the mother and father of the kids to keep them under control at your party if it's that much of a problem.

                                                                                                      1. Sounds like you just don't like your brother-in-law and his family and have created this issue all on your own. They are coming in from out of town, so why leave his kids out?

                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                          And I can't understand why YOUR adult children aren't invited to their dad's party.

                                                                                                          1. re: LaLa

                                                                                                            MY adult children were invited! It just so happens that my kids were helping me come up with options for a win-win situation! It was their offer to figure out a way to make things work. Plus: my post was about suggestions for dealing with kids at an adult cocktail party!

                                                                                                          2. re: scoopG

                                                                                                            I happen to like my BIL very much! But the party was planned as a "cocktail" party lasting well into the night. And it isn't like I wasn't offering up other options. I had offered the help of my older kids to care for his for a few hours at his other brother's house.

                                                                                                            1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                              A cocktail party lasting well into the night? That's not the norm for a cocktail party in my mind. Cocktail parties are usually about two hours in length with Hor'd d'oeuvres. No meal is served.

                                                                                                              Your issue seems to be with your sister-in-law who "won't leave" her "unruly" kids with anyone. You knew this ahead of time before planning this.

                                                                                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                Again, the post was about guidance for dealing with kids at an adult party, not about the normal length of a cocktail party, which can last longer than 2 hours. Nor was it about any issues that I have with my SIL.

                                                                                                                1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                  Your right...if it was about doing the right thing you would be planning a party that you know would be inclusive with the parameters.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LaLa

                                                                                                                    And if her husband is also particularly fond of adults-only parties?

                                                                                                                    I like kids and enjoy being around them. Still - not everything has to be for everybody. The party is for the OP's husband's sake, not his brother's. The only real concern to weigh here is what the guest of honor would most likely prefer. It's not 'wrong' to host an adults-only party any more than it's wrong to throw a child's birthday party at Chucky Cheese even though Great Aunt Matilda claims to hate the place (and who could blame her?)

                                                                                                                    1. re: LaLa

                                                                                                                      She is being inclusive by providing cousins to watch the kids and do fun activities with them- basically a kids party. Kids have more fun doing that. The SIL is being difficult. Her refusal to take part in what is provided does not mean the host isn't being inclusive. It means the SIL is being controlling and difficult.

                                                                                                                  2. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                    Is your issue just one of semantics?

                                                                                                                    I had a cocktail party last month (with kids!) and it went on til past 2. Not everyone stayed that late, of course, but I most definitely didn't put an end time on it. It was billed as a Christmas party, but I considered it a cocktail party in that there were cocktails (were there ever) and food, but it was a party not a dinner.

                                                                                                                  3. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                    I am having trouble grasping why the kids can't be at your home but safely sequestered in another *non-party* area with their mother staying with them until they chill out and fall asleep? It seems like something she might feel comfortable with.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                      Not everybody's houses are child-proofed or allow for this kind of space. Also, some kids are unruly and disrupt adult parties, break things, irritate family pets, etc. I've tried having kids at my house for gatherings, but it can be very challenging, especially for a surprise party or one where I'm putting a lot of time, effort, and money into providing a certain type of experience for my guests.

                                                                                                                      I think it should be acceptable that people occasionally choose to host an adults only party.

                                                                                                                  4. What did/does your husband say/feel about this?? I'm sure you've discussed it with him. If he feels as strongly as you do, then surely he has the balls to talk to his own brother. Let them hash it out to keep the peace. Then you go with the flow.

                                                                                                                    Have Fun!

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                                                                      It's a surprise party! Can't do that!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                                                                        Except that it's a surprise party.

                                                                                                                      2. If they are coming (and it sounds like they are), your best bet is to accommodate them and give them stuff to do so they can stay out of the main party are as much as possible. And remember that at the end of the day, they are just little kids. Yours were probably a touch "unruly" at that age too.

                                                                                                                        1. Sounds annoying. If it was just any party, I'd say you'd be well within reason to put your foot down and tell your BIL as kindly as possible but on no uncertain terms that that party is adults only, and that's all there is to it.

                                                                                                                          But since this is a party for your husband, I think you should try to do whatever you think your husband would prefer you to do. You know him better than I do. That might entail sucking it up, inviting BIL along with wife and kids, and playing nice. Or maybe not. Again, you know your husband and we don't.

                                                                                                                          Or I guess you could always change the party to a theme/costume party along the lines of the 'the Heydays of 1970s Porn' and see if BIL politely dis-invites himself.

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                              Ha! I'm trying to erase from my mind what the party favors would look like for THAT costume party.

                                                                                                                            2. The party is for your husband, and you know he would want his brother there if he was planning it. And it would hurt your husband if you (from BIL and SIL's perspectives) created a rift by being mean about their precious snowflakes.

                                                                                                                              So you deal with this graciously, for your husband's sake. Ask BIL about the kids' favorite games, tv or movies, and food. Create a little party for the kids with your son and daughter in the basement. Let the kids know you did this really special thing for them and ask your BIL and SIL to help you make their kids feel special and excited about this treat, and to steer their children back to their event if they make their way to the grownup party. If they won't, you or your husband or your kids can.

                                                                                                                              Try not to resent the extra work. Try to be patient with the kids. Maybe they will surprise you and respond well.

                                                                                                                              This is one party. Your husband's brother and kids are in your family for life.

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Ashforth

                                                                                                                                  If you have some sleeping bags, and stuff, set it up so it turns into a slumber party for them if the evening progresses well, both kids entertained and adults having fun. That way if they are getting tired, they can curl up in a sleeping bag and watch "one last movie"

                                                                                                                                  Some people did that with kids at a wedding awhile back. There was a quiet nook, all the kids had sleeping bags and they slept while the rest of the fun continued. The kids seemed used to it and didn't fuss.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                    Yep. Kids, bedroom, dvd player with kiddy-friendly-cartoon on repeat, let them go to sleep watching kiddy dreck, and then your kids can quietly close the door and leave them to sleep while they join the real party upstairs....

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Ashforth

                                                                                                                                    Often, when I'm in a situation that seems to be no-win, a good friend of mine will ask me, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" That often makes the solution obvious, and much easier.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                      Life is too short to piss it away with pettiness.

                                                                                                                                  3. Unlike everyone else here, I feel sympathetic to the mother. She's not trying to make you mad, she has her own priorities, that's all.

                                                                                                                                    I think you should let them come, but try not to be too upset by it. It's not worth it, really, and the kids are not going to "hijack" the party. It sounds like your kids will help in looking after them, and as somebody else suggested, have a bunch of kid movies and treats for them (ice cream).

                                                                                                                                    Just try to let it go. It's going to be a great party, and with that many people, the kids will be in the background for sure. Even if they come into the party area, they aren't going to take over, there's just too many guests there for that to happen.

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                                                                                      I have no kind of sympathy for that sort of person, male or female. This is 2014, not 1952.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                                                                                        Would you then tell all of your guests to feel free to bring their kids?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                          No, I would not invite everyone's kids. The "no kids" rule still stands. I'm just saying that rather than judge the sil, rather than let it get to op, the op should just let it go. I think issues like this get blown way out of proportion in many families. Op needs to take a chill pill. You can't control life. Get over it. She's coming with the kids.

                                                                                                                                        1. The rest of the Von Trapp kids are ganna be mighty ticked off when they find out that the unruly out of towner cousins got to spy on the drunk adults because of auntie/mommy dearest. The other parents will laugh and engage the brats while thinking, "what? are my kids chopped liver?" "My little Johnny eats sushi with chopsticks fer crisssake!"

                                                                                                                                          1. After reading all the replies and your additions to details...

                                                                                                                                            let the kids attend, be gracious and offer them something, or have available items to keep them busy....

                                                                                                                                            have some cocktails and enjoy yourself.

                                                                                                                                            one question, would your husband miss having the kids involved in the celebration? If so, no need to alter plans, just plan for take-out for the kids.

                                                                                                                                            1. Honey, your screwed You mention in addition to the kids attendance at the party, your not sure if the family is staying with you or the brother. This kid friendly family tells you what to do, now jump: get snacks and movies for the kids and makeup the guest rooms. Your soon to be on duty!

                                                                                                                                              1. It seems from your posts that you knew already that your sister-in-law would not attend without her children and your "brother-in-law wouldn't dream of attending without his wife and kids", so inviting you husband's family from out of town, you should have known you'd get the whole package.

                                                                                                                                                You seem to have dug yourself a hole, and my only suggestion would be to have blood relatives talk about a solution rather than in-laws if it's as contentious as it sounds.

                                                                                                                                                1. I think corraling her kids into the seperate/private area of the house with a babysitter and a few games/movies is the best solution. Hopefully they will be exhausted from traveling and nod off early.
                                                                                                                                                  Bribe the babysitter with whatever to keep them scarce.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I would tell them that I'm sorry to hear that they can't make it, then. And have the part without them.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I do completely understand your POV. I will say however that I'd be unlikely to fly my family of 4 anywhere for a birthday party (depending on personal circumstances of the individual celebrating). It sounds like you knew they would never leave the kids at home, so consider it an honor they are coming for
                                                                                                                                                      this party. I realize you've given them a decent option of leaving kids with another relative, but
                                                                                                                                                      they may feel (from their currently child-centric POV) that why bother coming if all aren't included in the purpose of the visit?
                                                                                                                                                      If it's important to your husband to have his brother there - I think people have given good suggestions on how to manage the kids.
                                                                                                                                                      Can one of the cousins who would have watched them elsewhere come to your house and 'babysit' there? Then your kids can be adult guests at the party, and another young family member has been given an important role in the party as well.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 1) you know your husband wants his brother to attend
                                                                                                                                                        2) you know your brother-in-law won't attend "stag"
                                                                                                                                                        3) the party is for your husband

                                                                                                                                                        Sounds like a no brainer. The nephew(s)/niece(s) will be at your house. Take up your kids offer on their assistance. They can take turns somewhat to make sure they don't miss out totally on the main party. If s-i-l wants to spend all her time in the basement with the brats, her choice. No skin off your nose.

                                                                                                                                                        Other kids not invited? Are they flying in from out of town? I thought not, if so send them to the dungeon along with the others.

                                                                                                                                                        I mean really, with family is this the ditch you really want to die in? The one thing you need to be firm about with your in-laws is that the kids are NOT welcome to come up the stairs unless someone is in danger of dying. There is nothing wrong with letting your in-laws know you are making special accommodations for them, therefore they need to make some accommodations for you as well. Again, the adults are welcome to go downstairs as much as they want - but no kids upstairs, period.

                                                                                                                                                        And if your other guests don't understand you making special accommodations for an honored out of town guest, then maybe its time to look at trimming that side of the guest list.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                          Yeah - as another guest, I wouldn't care if my (in-town) kids weren't invited. I'd be perfectly happy to not have MY kids to worry about, and mostly ignore any other kids that happened to be present.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Perfect! The sister-in-law can watch the kids at the other brothers house. This can free up your college aged kids to be at their father's party.

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                            Great idea!! The obvious solution. Why didn't I think of it?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                              Except OP already posted that BIL won't attend without his wife.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I think you have it nailed Yankee - it is really nice of your kids to keep them downstairs (please let your husband know afterwards how they "sacrificed" for his b-day), I would nicely tell bil and sil what arrangements you have made and that the kids WILL be staying downstairs for the party. You can explain that you don't want them to get into the drinks, etc. and you'll send food and age appropriate drink down. Your sil is certainly welcome to check on them.

                                                                                                                                                              1. All I could think of, when reading the post's title was: Give each of the kids an espresso and a puppy.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. Am I the only one who REALLY hopes to see a follow up post from Yankeegirl28 about how the party turns out?

                                                                                                                                                                  And who wants to bet SIL finds a way to free her kids from the basement?

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                    If the OP just wants to have a nice, mostly adult party, rather than a pissing contest with her SIL (and I believe that is her goal) - she'll have to make plans/suggestions as best she can, and then relax and enjoy without worrying about the outcome too much.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I think the basement solution sounds best. There might be a reason sil doesn't want the kids somewhere else--kids anxiety, behavioral problems... I wouldn't worry about other parents wondering why their children weren't invited. Most likely they're thinking they are happy to be childfree for the night.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Yankeegirl,

                                                                                                                                                                      It's not a highjacking if you know about it in advance. As a couple of posters have noted, you knew that your brother in law would attend, and you know his wife's views on babysitters.

                                                                                                                                                                      And yet you planned a surprise birthday cocktail party for "adults only".

                                                                                                                                                                      So, have kid-friendly snacks and beverages on hand; maybe set up a tv with a good kid's movie in a den, and enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Boy do I understand where you are coming from, and I agree with much of the good advice others have offered. I know from personal experience, however, that something like this would eat at me and make me hyper to the point of watching for every little thing these kiddos did wrong, then making an " I told you so" mental list. Yep, I'm prolly going to hell in a hand basket, but that's the way it is. Do yourself a favor and make peace with the situation now. Promise yourself you will let your kids take care of those kids, and you will relax and have a good time. If the little ones are badly behaved, it's not a reflection on you; it's something you can't do anything about, and it is what it is.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                                          What is there about "an adult cocktail party doesn't the woman understand?
                                                                                                                                                                          "Hey, like I said the party is for adults only. YOU figure out what to do with your 'precious' brats'!"
                                                                                                                                                                          Otherwise consider yourself uninvited no matter how long the airline employees had to put up with your brats. CLICK!

                                                                                                                                                                        2. First look at the positive. Your BIL (and SIL) is willing to fly his family (4 round trip plane tickets) to attend a surprise cocktail party for his brother. No matter how short the flight is, or cheap the tickets, that is a significant about of time and money that they are spending just to attend.

                                                                                                                                                                          Then try to see it from her side. She has to fly with a 4 yr old and 5yr to attend a birthday party for her BIL. Maybe she assumes that her family will be spending the night/weekend with you because you invited them to fly out. If that's the case why should she expect her kids to be somewhere else? Does it make sense for her kids to be somewhere else at bedtime? Since they are spending the time and money to fly out to see you, why wouldn't the family (kids included) attend the party?

                                                                                                                                                                          Just accept that they kids will be there. Ask your kids to wrangle their younger cousins. It can be making sure they stay in the basement with snacks, movies, or games . It can mean making sure they don't witness too much adult conversation or activity. Who knows, maybe your SIL might prefer to stay with her kids or the kids will be too tired or too enthralled by the party to be unruly.

                                                                                                                                                                          At the end of the day you had prior knowledge of this issue when you sent the invitation. Just relax and enjoy the party.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                            100% guaranteed the 'kids' will stay in the 'basement for 1 minute. Then you and the other adults will get to witness two of the smartest kids on the planet 'entertaining' the adults all night.
                                                                                                                                                                            You made your bed so you must sleep in it.
                                                                                                                                                                            If I were a guest I'd allow the 'kids' to take center stage.....which, with their enabling mother's blessing, they will do for about four minutes and we'd be out of there. Seriously.
                                                                                                                                                                            Life's very short.
                                                                                                                                                                            But there's always a silver lining: As my loving old Mennonite Grandmother used to say: "What you don't learn at home strangers will teach you".
                                                                                                                                                                            We made sure all our kids never needed a 'stranger' to teach them how to behave. Five plain ordinary normal hard working happy successful beautiful kids later.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                                                                                                                              I meant to indicate *sarcasm* with this photo.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, it is. That scene has always frightened me as a child, lol. As did the flying monkeys in Oz (they still do) :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  Seriously, I run out of the room when Wizard of Oz is on tv, and the flying monkeys come on!

                                                                                                                                                                            2. I would be more worried about the thirty alcohol drinking adults myself than the 4 and 5 year olds. Just saying:)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Put your foot down. Immediately. Tell him that you came up with a great babysitting solution and if his wife doesn't like it, she can stay home with the kids...sometimes ya gotta call their bluff!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Get 'em drunk and become their favorite aunt.

                                                                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                    Movie choice, "Saving Private Ryan" or "Apocalypse Now."

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                        nightmare on elm street or poltergeist! ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm throwing in "Goodfellas," as they can learn to be good earners and the two most important things in life, "never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut."

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                            And how to finely chop garlic.....a good chowhound skill. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                            That reminded me of the time my parents left me unattended at a dinner party and the older kids watched a Karen Black horror movie with a demon monkey that she put in the oven to kill and then turned into the demon monkey. I had nightmares for ...... well I still have nightmares. Poltergeist on the other hand is hysterical --Carol Ayyyne Carol Ayyne - walk into the light Carol Aynne.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                          This is the best solution by far!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                            Or bake up a batch of pot brownies for the kiddos.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                              Along with St Joseph's Valium for Children, in Chewable Tablet Form.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                Flintstones Chewable Morphine! They'll never even notice any lewd dancing after a couple o' those.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Daisy.G

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I read that Fred Flintstein and Barney Reubel were the world's first Jewish comedy team.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                                    And I've read that they are based on Ralph Cramden and Ed Norton. But who knows.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                              Don't laugh.
                                                                                                                                                                                              My first "buzz" happened during a scene very much like that proposed by the OP.
                                                                                                                                                                                              My teenage cousin thought (?) it would fun (?) or perhaps make his job easier (?) to give us kiddos a bit o' the juice, or rather Coca-cola spiked with rum.
                                                                                                                                                                                              First time tipsy ever!
                                                                                                                                                                                              It's been over 4 decades...is it too late to send him a "thank-you" note?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think Miss Manners would say that it is never too late!

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. This happened with our wedding. One of the groomsmen refused to leave his children for the afternoon. We said we were sorry and we don't speak anymore. I have no good advice :(

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                                If it wasn't that, I'll bet it would have been something else. I wonder if he's Yankee's BIL?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I declined my cousins out of state wedding invitation because she wanted me to leave my very well behaved 8 year old with strangers, all other family were attending the wedding. Although her brothers completely bratty kids were welcome. I didn't miss a thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. As host, you can decide whether or not to have children at your party. It matters not if the guest list includes only friends, or family, or both. Now if folks are traveling from out of town with children, it complicates things a bit…but you have absolutely done the right thing by offering to have your grown-up kids do the baby sitting. It sounds like your SIL is being very unreasonable, and you need to do what you need to do! If you want an adults only party, it's absolutely your right as host to set this guideline. If your guests do not wish to abide by your rules, they should stay home!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Ugh. This situation came up for us a few years ago when I threw my spouse a surprise birthday cocktail party. This was before parenthood. Just as the party began, one of my friends called and asked if they could bring their infant because they didn't have a babysitter. We were living in a three room apartment at the time and there was no quiet place for the baby. I also was somewhat annoyed at this last minute request. So, I said no. They didn't come and we haven't heard from them since then. I feel bad now, because I don't think I had any empathy at all for new parents back then. I would make a different decision now.I think it is a situation of winning the battle versus winning the war, if you know what I mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the flip side of this, although your empathy is admirable, I have a different perspective on what you're saying.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've raised my children who are now adults. We would enjoy going out without our children on weekends, although I was very particular about sitters…
                                                                                                                                                                                                      They were vetted thoroughly before being allowed in my home or near my children.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can't think of one time where I requested, because I didn't have a sitter, bringing my children with me to a party.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      We'd stay home and not think anymore about it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's just part of being a parent and I always realized that not all people love children and enjoy them at a party for adults.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kat, you did the right thing. If I were the new parent in that situation, I would have called and said the babysitter cancelled and we wouldn't be able to attend. That throws the ball back into the hostess's court - ie, an opportunity to say "bring the baby with you, no problem" or "so sorry you can't come, next time." I'm in Canada, many new mothers are breastfeeding so a lot of times when you invite someone with a newborn it's kind of expected that the baby will come along. But it's all in the how the invitation is worded....rather than just "You're invited..." (because if it's a new mom who is breastfeeding and you know she is and you are inviting her anyway, then you are given tacit consent to a baby attending) it's "Do you think you would be able to pump and get out of the house for an hour or two to pop into this cocktail party I am having?" Most new parents just have to forego adults-only parties for a while...it just comes with the territory. Something people should think about long and hard before making that plunge!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'm sure one reason why these kids are so unruly is because they go everywhere with their parents and thus, have no boundaries. So my totally tongue-in-cheek, non-serious suggestion is to have no boundaries yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This will entail: removing the doors off the bathroom cabinets, or wherever you store your bleach, Valium, etc. and letting your SIL know in advance that the doors are out being refinished; offering every guest, regardless of age, a nice stiff alcoholic beverage; playing the raunchiest hip hop music you can find; having cigars and cigarettes readily available to all your guests, along with lighters; borrowing a terrifying, massive dog from a friend ("oh, that's Brutus, he's just here because our friends don't want him around during their surprise party"); and serving the most outrageous, kid-hostile foods you can think of (bonus points for extra spice).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now that's just punitive and mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Reminds me of the famous W.C. Fields quote. When asked how he likes children, he replied "Well done!".

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Can you hire a neighborhood teenager to watch/entertain the kids at your house during the party, generally staying out of the party area?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. This thread has really stayed on my mind. I can't help thinking that there must be tremendous fear and anxiety working on SIL that makes her feel that something catastrophic might happen to her children if she is not constantly present to prevent it. It sounds like an exhausting burden. Maybe she experienced some sort of abuse as a child, perhaps by a family member.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is speculation, of course. But it seems unfair to leap to label SIL as merely selfish and inconsiderate, as many posters seem to have done, when other things are probably in play.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just a thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ashforth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I know a woman who would not let her children out of her sight from the time they were born till the time they could talk in complete sentences. Of course by age 4 or 5 - the age of the children in question - they were able to talk. I thought it as strange, but it didn't appear to do the kids any harm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ashforth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <But it seems unfair to leap to label SIL as merely selfish and inconsiderate>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not one of those people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most likely, and for any number of reasons, the SIL has issues relating to how she treats her children and her behavior follows it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However, having said that, raising children to be independent with self worth is no easy task.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A child needs to learn there're going to be fine in the world without their mother hovering 24/7. If she has anxiety about leaving her children with a caretaker, and other fears she projects onto the child, the child learns he/she is incapable of dealing with things…it can set the stage for a long list of anxieties in the child.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The SIL probably needs some guidance to learn how to separate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I did not see a date listed for your party,.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Look forward to a chowhound update.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amazing to me that parents operate under the delusion that their children actually ~require~ their presence 24/7.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good luck and best wishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. A different viewpoint. When I was a kid (from birth to young teens) my parents didn't believe in babysitters. they took me and my 4 year younger sister to parties, weddings, etc. Me and my sis had a terrible time and hated it. So we were a pain in the ass. We didn't plan on it, but kids need to be entertained. Or else they will find ways to entertain themselves. (Catastrophe in the making) Going out to a fine restaurant for dinner was one thing. We enjoyed it and were well behaved. But we were part of an adventure. But at these cocktail parties we were bored to death and ignored. We tried to behave, but ended up getting into all kinds of mischief.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Many years after this many of my parents friends, who as I became an adult I became friends with, said that they wished my parents hadn't brought me and my sister. Not that we were really bad, because we actually tried to be good, but kids are kids. And these were adult parties. They didn't confront my parents and regretted it. In many ways I wish they had and my parents hadn't insisted we went with them to all these parties and had instead just hired a sitter and left us at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. nope, no children allowed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      never mind..i wanted to post a pic of Don draper's wife dancing and singing in front of her husband and his office mates in their apt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          wouldn't you love to attend a cocktail party like that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Knowing there would be kids involved and knowing the BIL wouldn't attend without SIL it sounds like an adult only cocktail party was a poor choice. There will be plenty of birthdays to throw parties on when the kids are older and having a sitter isn't a problem, maybe something more family oriented is a better choice for now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          How was the adult cocktail party a poor choice? What if it was birthday boy's preference? It is a poor choice because one person on the invite list was unaccommodating?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I hope you were able to have your adult only cocktail party, OP, whether with or without the brother. If they definitely said no to coming to the cocktail party without children, I would, if possible suggest family brunch at a kid friendly place in town the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The OP stated it is a surprise party so birthday boy doesn't even know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, but adult cocktail parties may still be his preference, and his partner might be aware of that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I totally get that (It is my preference, too,) but it isn't always the best choice. Sometimes its more important to make sure everyone is not only included but feels welcome, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was simply countering the notion that it being a surprise party implies that the spouse does not know what the birthday boy's preference is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh I'm so sorry. No advice but just commiseration. Update please!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Sorry, but I'm not in the camp of changing my plans just because SIL doesn't want her children's cousins (your children) to baby sit them at their uncle's house. So why would it be suggested they baby sit them in another room at the party site? SIL obviously do not want your kids to baby sit her children, does it matter whether it's your house or your husband's brother's house?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think it was considerate of you to arrange to have them looked after by your children. I could understand if it would be a stranger, especially since they are from out of town but it's family. If another guest asked you if they could bring their children because of a lack of baby sitter or whatever the case may be, would you be just as understanding or would you shut them out? Because, I would think twice about being a guest where there are two sets of rules regardless of what the circumstances are. Either open the party to everyone or stick with your no kids clause for everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No disrespect but I don't feel sorry for you because people will do what you allow them to do, and they will also treat you the way you allow them to treat you. You don't know if they are staying with you or not...did you invite them to stay with you? Who is running the show?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I didn't ask anyone to "feel sorry" for me. I always try to find some middle ground, especially for family (particularly for family that I don't see but once or twice a year). I feel pretty good about my relationships and typically don't feel like I get mistreated. As far as not knowing whether they're staying with me, understand that we're a month away from the event and plans are still being worked out. Do people really have that little tolerance for quirky in-laws??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Frankly I am amazed at how many people want to just cut the family out because of their "issues" or "quirks". This is not some acquaintance, it's family. Sure, one would like to have things one's own way, but sometimes you have to work with what you've got. It hardly seems worth starting world war three over. The idea of shutting out the birthday boy's *brother* over this astounds me. What is more important? It looks like you've found a great solution, and I hope everything is lots of fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed. It seems to me that OP's inadvertently unleashed a firestorm of posts from people who either have control issues or people who have issuse with people who have control issues. I'm in the latter group, but it's been an interesting thread, for sure. I know I've changed my mind at LEAST three times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've gone back and forth, too, on this. I do believe not all parties should have kids, although I've yet to go to any where there's been lewd dancing and I'm sure my teen kids would want no part of that anyway... I do wonder if the SIL has thought that they all flew in to help celebrate so now part of her family is not being welcome and being put off by it. It would be one thing if they lived nearby. Could it be that in the passed, it has been open to children and this time it's not? It might just be bad timing. Or it could be that they're so far from home, and her children will be babysat at a distant location and might not know the OP's teens? Or it could be, as I mentioned, behavior problems that the OP doesn't know about since she mentions they're unruly. There could be a lot of reasons. It could very well be that she's a helicopter parent, or we could give her the benefit of the doubt. I'm all for leaving children w/ trusted individuals but it does depend on the situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would also not consider it a power game but put the focus on the celebration. Husband's birthday and he wants his brother to be there. He doesn't say he wants an adult only party and really it's about him. Brother and family there happily; or SIL and both sets of children not there to celebrate. Put aside personal preference for the birthday boy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (particularly for family that I don't see but once or twice a year)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And this may be why SIL isn't comfortable leaving the kids at the other brother's house with sitters they barely know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ETA - What I mean is some little kids don't do well with strangers or people they aren't familiar with. If the SIL knows this about her kids, she might feel strongly about them being "forced" into a situation that will be stressful for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Thanks for all the feedback (some helpful and some not)! I've never posted on a blog before and I'm amazed at the judgement that goes on! At any rate, just to update and to offer further info: the party is in a month, invitations haven't gone out yet, and both brothers have been spoken to about coming to their brother's (my husband) surprise party. The reason for my anxiety is that the out of town brother will be bringing his family, since we really do all see each other a couple of times a year. They will more than likely stay with me because I have more room and the in-town brother will host their out-of-town aging mother. If case anyone's interested, here's what I've decided to do: all the little cousins will come (there's only 4). They will set up camp in my teenage son's basement bedroom (with his permission and help). I'll provide age-appropriate movies and food and drinks. I'll make clear that the kids are to stay downstairs during the party. I'll hope for the best and try to have fun. All in the name of family harmony!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think a cousin bonding party will be a wonderful thing for all involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That sounds just lovely, Yankeegirl. A great plan!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        yankeegirl: I hope the judgementalness of some hounds does not drive you away from chowhound, I've gotten a lot of good advice here over the years, sometimes you just have to sift the wheat from the chaff, and some of it chaffs quite a bit. Some few people here find it incomprehensible that anyone would make decisions that are not the same as the way they would do things, I just ignore them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It sounds like you have hit upon a good solution that should solve everyone's concerns. Even if your b-i-l and s-i-l have qualms about anyone babysitting their kids (and who knows what deep dark or not so deep dark reasons are behind that), having them just downstairs where the parents can check up every few minutes if they feel the need should take care of any anxiety.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm sure most of us look forward to hearing how the party goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Why not just lock the unruly little monsters in the attic with gramma? You do realize you have never called them your niece or nephew, nor have you referred to your sister in law as what she is - your sister in law. Instead you refer to them as 'his' family. Heck you couldn't even muster up a mention of your mother in law. Instead you call her 'their out of town aging mother."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OMG! For real?! I was trying to be clear as to the varying players in the scenario! Gee whiz! The judgmental responses are freaking amazing! You have absolutely no idea as to the type of relationship I have with my family or my in-laws and yet you make absurd assumptions!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I thought you were just making it as clear as possible, given that there are more related children than just the two out-of-towners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think you've made the accomodations you can -- your kids watching the littler ones. Stay flexible! And good on your kids for agreeing to help out, even though they're young adults and it's their dad's party. I hope they get to tag-team in and out every once in a while!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One thing that no one's commented on here is the reality that parents -- even if they're siblings -- at different stages of the child-raising game have different expectations and anxieties and desires. It does take some juggling, and it sounds like you're looking at the give and take and doing what needs to be done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I hope it all works fabulously!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You'd be wise to re read your posts and the way you describe your husbands family before you throw stones, on a thread in which you asked for feedback. Perhaps you are not aware how cold you sound when describing them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Goodness. Really? In addition to your post being ridiculous, you're inaccurate. She does refer to her SIL as her SIL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Someone please pass bellachef the pot brownies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    with all due respect, i didn't feel that she sounded cold at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    she took the time and effort (and the abuse) to ask people's opinion because she was obviously torn about how to handle this family issue to everyone's (or most everyone's satisfaction.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wow. This is one of the greatest leaps of character judgment I've seen on this site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yankeegirl, I hope this kind of ugliness won't keep you from continuing to participate on the boards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ETA: By "greatest leaps" I do not mean "good;" I mean significant. Or mind blowing. Or "WTF?" Or something like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ugliness? Really? I am simply reading the OP's words. Granted I find them to be cold, including the title, since it is about her niece or nephew which are described terribly over and over and over. Re read the posts. I didn't jump to any conclusions. I simply read what was posted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Good lord...I set myself up like a freakin' bowling pin! Nice one!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yankeegirl, I'm glad you found some of the advice helpful and it seems you've found a great solution. I really hope that my earlier reply was not taken as judgemental/hurtful since that was certainly not my intent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you stick around (hope you do) you'll see these etiquette threads can get nasty, though not nearly as ugly as many other sites in this anonymous internet world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sounds like you've come to an acceptable compromise... But are you sure SIL doesn't expect the children to be allowed upstairs and included in the party with the adults? I am not sure how it would make a difference to her if the kids are being watched by an older family member in a separate room if the issue is that she doesn't want them being watched by anyone else, period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I do wish you well......and can't wait to hear the outcome!Now relax and enjoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          and as to your Hubbie:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hippo, Birdy, Two ewes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I write this with deep compassion for your situation, BUT.... You can get yourself into a lot of trouble by worrying about whether it's okay to do things the way YOU want to do them! So.... YES! It *IS* okay to do things your way. If your brother-n-law and/or his wife cannot come to the party without their children, well then, plain and simple, they can't come! Tell them that NO children are acceptable at the party. Period. This is absolutely reasonable. There is no reason for you to change your life and your goals to accommodate theirs. Let them stay home with their kids if they wish. It is THEIR choice, not yours. And don' you dare feel guilty about it! That would be a real shame. Enjoy life, enjoy the birthday party, and enjoy doing it on your terms. Good luck and warm wishes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think she made it clear she wants them to come, and wanted suggestions on how to deal with the fact of them coming. There's been many many replies along the same lines of yours already, so I think she is well-appraised of her options and can make a mature adult choice that is different than the choice you might make. Your whole point being that it is her choice, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Actually, she made it quite clear that she didn't want them to come before she made it clear that she did want them to come. Also made it clear that she was hoping the little unruly children and parents would stay with her husbands brother and not with her. This whole thread smells of 3 day old fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bellachefa, you're being very judgemental. The whole point of this thread was for folks to offer "feedback" for dealing with kids at an adult cocktail party, not the relationship I have with my in-laws. For your information, not that I owe you an explanation, I do have a very good relationship with my in-laws. I clearly shouldn't have gone into detail in describing the children as unruly, but they are. I have hosted my brother and his family quite often in the last several years and have had no problem dealing with their quirkiness (I'm sure I have a few of my own quirks), but when you throw in a cocktail party for 30 or more, I'm sure one can see how the anxiety level of the host (me) can rise. And in the end, I have come to realize that I will do whatever it takes to make this an enjoyable event for all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You go Gal!....and hope you spend some more time here....don't worry about your S-I-L or some here who want to project their own situations on yours...........cope however you need. But I think you've gotten about the full range of "advice" that the situation calls for. You have come up with a "solution" that makes sense to you.....and hopefully the others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As to some of these other posters..............let it slide......the joys of anonymity and the net

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. You have my sympathy. Not sure there is an easy solution. The reality is that many parents these days raise kids to be little self-indulged monsters from the time they can walk. In a society where you have to get a license to do almost anything, we still think everybody is qualified to raise children. I'd rather not have a party than have it disrupted by uncontrollable screaming brats. I think higher-quality restaurants should have no-brat policies too, enforced by bouncers at the door. Go ahead and hate me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. What about this? Your kid/kids babysit at your house in a room removed from the party areas; ie upstairs bedroom, basement, whatever. You'll need a TV, games, books and snacks. The parents can pop in when they feel like it, but kids must stay removed from the party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I know with these long threads it's impossible to read everything, but that's exactly what the OP has decided to arrange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I find your relatives position to be a bit over the top. especially if they are "unruly" children..........but one possible "out" If you are having this at your home, can your kids keep the little ones "occupied" in an unused room in the house? Or if in a venue somewhere, do they have a separate room you could use? Damn nice of your kids to "volunteer"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Other than that............I guess I would just politely put a foot down.......like on your Sister-in-laws head!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Give them a cup of espresso and a puppy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. This is actually the exact same issue as the one with the MIL being hurt about not being included in the birthday dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A lot of people seem to think that the host should acceded to the other person's feelings or demands. But why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why are the guest's feelings more important than the host's?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why is the host who wants to have a certain kind of celebration characterized as being insensitive to their family?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't the family member who is demanding (or using emotional blackmail) to get what they want at someone else's celebration even more insensitive to their family?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can't believe how many people defend that kind of selfish and manipulative behavior!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. In all my years, and they are considerable, have children under the age of 21 ever been at any cocktail party my husband and I have either attended or have had. It simply isn't done. No ifs ands or buts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, I understand the world changes, and each younger generation relaxes a bit. But a cocktail party is a Sophisticated affair. Intended as a gathering of like minded people who get together, reconnect, discuss matters of the day, and so forth. In no way is it a time for children to be underfoot. And, yes I know the word "underfoot" may be hard on the ears of others, but that's what it amounts to if their young ones are scampering about begging for attention. And they do and they will.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wonder about the OP's rationale for having a Surprise Cocktail Party in the first place. Why not just have a family celebration that would include all the family? Especially since there are all these problems, then perhaps having a simple cocktail party at another date for their friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's your definition of a cocktail party, anyway....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well of course it after all. What's yours?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have a looser definition. To me it's a party that isn't not a sit-down dinner, it's at night, and it's not a kegger I would have thrown when I was 21.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I guess I'm more apt to just call it a "party" and let the "cocktail" part be implied since my friends and I all enjoy our cocktails. I'm not sure exactly what a "Sophisticated affair" is, but I don't think that's a label I'd use for my last party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gio: To be quite honest, I foolishly thought that my BIL would fly up for the weekend sans wife and kids as my husband had done for the same brother's surprise party many years earlier. We had at the time 2 small kids and we thought it best that I not go, so that my husband could have fun without worrying about these very issues. I was totally fine with that. We are now at different stages of child rearing, and none of our friends have little kids, all being in late middle school to college. But, what's done is done. I now have the task of making the best of an a less than ideal situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Yankeegirl28

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, of course you do, YG. Everything will probably be OK in the end. Everything we do is a learning experience, isn't it. Happy Birthday to your husband, and have a good time at the party you planned and prepared so diligently for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm convinced some of the posters haven't been to the type of party you're describing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If they have, and do bring children along, there's no question the other guests (I think one poster stated this) will leave early.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nobody, including myself who loves children including my own, wants to experience children and their needs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a time to call in the trusted babysitter, get dressed up in cocktail attire and get ready for a night of adult fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Exactly. If I am at an adult party and I have a little kid doing the "look at me, look at me" thing.....or "see what I can do" thing... I am out of there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There is a time and place for all things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I would hire a babysitter to occupy the kids in a separate part of the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: zoeann

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not me. I'd hire a babysitter to take care of them at the baby sitter's house!!! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I would let them no that no kids are allowed. If his wife wants to be unreasonable, then they won't come. I would never change the rules to accommodate someone being stubborn and unreasonable.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Plane tickets are bought. They are on their way. You're going to stand at the door and bar the birthday boy's family? Wow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. With all due respect to Yankeegirl28 and what is a sticky problem, I'd just like to report that I tried to work the words "lewd dancing" into every and any conversation this weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lsmutko

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Conversation? I tried to work it into my daily life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bad back. Had to cut way down on it. But you go!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: lsmutko

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I forgot about this, this is what lewd dancing is to me. Not over the top, just funky. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZATJk6...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I know, the epitome of "lewd dancing" to me! And of course, I was a child when I first saw it....don't think it changed me for the worse ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, more bad cheese than Kraft.